The Ashling Team member profile series breaks-down how professionals in our cybersecurity community broke-in to the industry.
Meet Martin Gephart, Senior Director of Enterprise Architecture | Medicare & Retirement, Insurance Solutions | United Healthcare
One of the first members of the Ashling Team Cybersecurity Community, Martin Gephart, Technology Evangelist and Digital Business Transformation Strategist, is a father, musician and fan of the “Get Stuff Done” team. That’s right, Gephart likes to build and grow cross-functional teams that can do just that, get stuff done.
Specializing in fraud detection/information security, IT operations, strategy and beyond, Gephart is also passionate about volunteering to teach and excite children about STEM related topics. Of course, that is, when he’s not rocking-out a (very loud) drum solo!
How did your cybersecurity career begin?
I read “The Cuckoo’s Egg,” by Clifford Stoll shortly after graduating from college and that got me curious about security. I then discovered “2600,” and my curiosity increased.
How has you career evolved?
I started working in the defense industry, so I guess that was a good starting point for understanding information assurance needs. From there, I started as a UNIX administrator as part of my assigned development duties and began to understand more about security and data needs.
Next was the dot com boom, where I learned fraud detection techniques and credit card data protection. Then, I was assigned a temporary ownership of Information Security while we searched for a CISO in the financial services industry. Intrusion detection system implementation was occurring while I held that temporary role, and I learned a ton.
Eventually, I ran IT operations and information/physical security fell under those roles. All that aside, when my son decided to pursue InfoSec in college, I became even more interested. I wanted to understand what he was working on and be able to have an intelligent conversation with him about his coursework. The rest has been just independent reading and curiosity.
What, if anything, would you have done differently throughout your career?
I would have never made the statement as the head of development: ‘You know, if I ran IT operations, things would be different.’ I will NEVER say that again. Having responsibilities for SLA management and security made me a better leader of development. Understanding the operational needs of the enterprise really opened my eyes to ‘why’ some techniques are so important. I just wish I had learned that much earlier in my career.
Also, I would have networked more. There is always someone who knows something that you do not. It’s important to create connections— friendships— and help each other. Leave every conversation with the question: ‘Thank you, what more can I do for you?’
What suggestion(s) do you have for a recent graduate?
Be curious. Never stop learning. Find a way to learn something new whenever you can, and as often as you can.
What would you say to someone considering changing careers and moving into cybersecurity?
You do not have to be a technical expert to be good at this. You need to learn and understand it, but there are always things you can learn and use that have absolutely nothing to do with technology in the security industry while you increase your tech awareness. Stay curious.
How has the cybersecurity industry changed during your career?
How has it changed? Well, it was created. When I started, things were a bit less defined and loose. Now, there are regulatory needs, standards to follow, examples that you can learn from. So, I would say, I was in it from close to the beginning, and it has started to mature.
Gephart admires the outreach efforts of TechGirlz, which inspires
middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower
their future careers. To learn more and get involved, visit TechGirlz.org.